“Exactly what I thought it would be”: Duncan McGuire soaks in the feelings of scoring his first MLS goal

WASHINGTON, D.C.Ivan Angulo lays off to an overlapping Kyle Smith. First touch cross from the right side. A little high for the open forward in the middle, but just right for the back-post attacker. Dagur Dan Thorhallsson‘s header doesn’t lock on frame, but that’s just fine because it lands at the feet of Duncan McGuire for a right-footed tap-in from two yards out.

That moment in the 53rd minute of Orlando City‘s 1-1 draw at D.C. United on Saturday night was a seminal moment in McGuire’s budding career as his first career goal, coming just over halfway into his MLS debut.

“It’s definitely something you dream of as a kid,” McGuire said of the moment after the match. “So definitely, it’s exactly what I thought it would be. It was an unbelievable experience and I hope it’s the first of many.”

After seeing a healthy amount of playing time in preseason, McGuire wasn’t involved in either of the Lions’ first two MLS games or their Champions League opener at Tigers earlier in the week. But with another heavily-rotated lineup against D.C. ahead of Leg 2 against Tigres on Wednesday in Orlando, manager Oscar Pareja finally penciled him into the lineup.

Despite the pause of game action, McGuire woke up on Saturday feeling confident to foresee what was going to happen later that night.

“I definitely felt confident,” he said. “I definitely went in with the mentality today that I was going to score. I was feeling good when I woke up this morning, so I’m definitely glad that it happened. But yeah, I definitely felt good about the game.”

Orlando’s 6th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft this past winter following a breakout season with Creighton, scoring 23 goals in 24 games and winning the MAC Hermann Trophy, McGuire joined a roster fairly competitive with attacking talent. Beyond McGuire, the Lions carry Designated Player Ercan Kara, U-22 signing Ramiro Enrique, and last year’s first-round pick Jack Lynn.

Needless to say, he’s had to work hard to earn an opportunity to start just four games into the season.

“He is a young kid and very committed with the group,” Pareja said after the match. “He is an American player who came up through the college system, which is fantastic. He has proven he is ready in his first game, so we are very happy for him.”

Very few college players in this country are able to take the next step into the professional game, and even fewer are able to see success when they get there. For a player like McGuire, it’s easy to look at his one breakout year of success at Creighton and think that it won’t easily translate into the pro game, especially this soon at the level that Orlando is playing this season on four different fronts.

But for the 22-year-old, he’s taking it in stride well.

“It’s definitely a step up from where I’ve come from, but it’s everything that I’ve expected it to be,” he said. “The standards that they hold us to are very high, but it’s definitely a fun team to be around and they make it very enjoyable.”

For more Orlando soccer news, follow the Soccer Journal on Twitter: @OSJSoccer


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